I got to Miami on Thursday and met up with a couple SWSers in the Miami airport. The airport is removed from all public transportation (like Laguardia) and so you are at the mercy of the $26 round trip shuttle fare to the hotel. Way to kill my small budget!
I had a terrible time checking into the hotel- my name wasn't on the reservation for some reason (even though the person who reserved the room gave them my name) so they wouldn't let me check in until the person who reserved the room checked in. Someone from SWS let me go up to their room to hang out for a while. While I was in the bathroom I heard her on the phone with someone. When I got out she told me everything was fine- she called the general manager and raised some hell so they would let me check in. I went downstairs and the manager was waiting when I got off the elevator. He apologized so profusely for not letting me into my room and had someone check me in. She also apologized and apologized like I was some big, important person which made me totally uncomfortable.
When my other roommate arrived we decided to walk from the hotel to "downtown" Miami to find food. After walking around the very dirty and non-exciting downtown (filled with those flashy discount electronic/tourist shops a la Times Square) Miami, and only fining a Subway to eat at, I figured I was done with the city. Yeah, the ocean was a couple blocks away but other than that nothing else was impressing. I also forgot in my last-minute packing to bring any sunglasses or sunscreen. So, I got some color (I am shocked I am not sunburned).
Friday was for committee meetings on "Feminist Transformation of the Academy" and such. In the afternoon we had free time and decided to walk to a park near the water. From the park we wandered further around Miami, found the corporate offices of Barcardi and visited the Barcardi museum, and then we stopped in a local grocery store for oranges (only $.10 each!).
Friday night was the big banquet- an especially fun time, actually. The hotel served bottles of wine to each table with dinner (always lubricates social interaction among sociologists very well) and I spent some time re-connecting with some of my favorite people who I knew from other meetings. The banquetgot a little silly- the new president of SWS had all the founding mothers and past presidents get up and stand in a kind of receiving line while everyone else went through the line hugging and thanking each of them. It was actually kind of nice- I suppose if you didn’t know them already hugging them would have been a little creepy. Later on, someone was awarded a "Sponge bob triangle pants" for wiping up slime like Larry Summers of Harvard with.
Saturday night a bunch of us went to South Beach for dinner and drinks. I didn't think I would like it- I thought it would be very snooty, upper-class, and expensive. Some of the restaurants and people were indeed like that, but there was a such a wide mix of people just drinking and hanging out that I felt pretty comfortable and actually had a blast. I might have gotten pretty wasted along with everyone else and I might have even danced (shocking, I know). We walked on the beach- I honestly have to say I forgot the Atlantic ocean could be warm. I walked around with one wonderful new friend (the kind of person you connect with instantly and don’t ever have to explain yourself to and wonder why you weren't always friends with) and we ended up finding Versace’s house (so beautiful!) where Versace was shot and killed (I didn't even know he was dead). We also found some very ritzy hotels with intense security and wondered who was staying there.
So, all in all it was a wonderful weekend- I also have some funny little things to post- overheard conversations and strange incidents, but I'll save that for another time and get back to work.